How to Ace That Job Interview

So, exams are finally coming to an end. At Student Housing Lancaster, we wish you the best of luck and hope you achieved the grades you were after. For some of you, your University journey has finished. Before long you’ll be crossing that stage in your graduation gown to collect your degree and say goodbye to student life.

Some of you may already have a job lined up, but others may be starting to panic about what comes next. Possibly one of the most difficult aspects of job hunting is trying to land the job with an impressive interview. It’s easy to explain why you’re suited to a role in a well thought out, drafted cover letter, but doing it face to face on the fly can be more difficult.

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips and tricks to impressive during those all-important job interviews.

Job Interview

Dress to Impress

What you wear to an interview could make or break whether you get the job. It sounds silly, but if an interviewer must pick between two equally qualified candidates and one was dressed more appropriately than the other, the better dressed of the two is likely to get the call.

Even if the work environment is casual in terms of dress, it’s still a good idea to dress more formally for the interview phase – you can start showing up in shorts and flip flops once you’ve got the job. You don’t necessarily need a full suit and tie, but certainly a smart shirt and no jeans. It’s a good idea to have a few outfits in your repertoire in preparation for interviews, a lot of clothes shops have an office wear section that is perfect for this.

Research the Company

Nothing shows a company you don’t really care about getting the job like not knowing anything about them. Why would a company hire someone who can’t even answer a basic question about what they do as company? Trust us, they won’t.

Before even applying for a job somewhere, you should take a look at their website and read everything you can about what it is they do. For the interview, memorise the company’s mission, achievements and milestones. Their social media profiles will be a gold mine for information, and it will also hopefully give you an insight into what it’s actually like to work for them. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to answer their questions.

Plan Answers to Common Questions

Whilst no interview is alike, there are some common questions that will almost always be asked. Questions like why you want the job and what’s your relevant experience are practically guaranteed, so don’t entirely rely on your improvisational skills and plan answers beforehand. You don’t need to learn a script, but having a few bullet points in your head you can list off for common interview questions that you’ve prepared in advance will help you come across as more confident and succinct.

Here are some common interview questions:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • How do you handle pressure?

Practice a Fake Interview

If you have plenty of time before an interview, it pays to have a practice run. This can either be with a parent or a friend acting as the interviewer – although this may be difficult given the personal relationship between you both – or you could ask your University for help.

Some career services at Universities will run a practice interview service. If you contact them in advance and send them the role and company you’re interviewing for, they may even be able to do a mock interview with you for that specific situation. Of course, they won’t know exactly what your real interviewer will ask you, but they will be able to offer you feedback on your interview technique and offer valuable insights on how you can improve. It should help you feel more confident for the real thing.

Take Time to Think Before You Speak

Something that shows uncertainty and nervousness during a job interview is stammering and giving incomplete or poor answers to questions. Don’t panic! When you get asked a question that you don’t have a prepared answer for, don’t be afraid to take a moment to sit and have a think about how to answer.

Interviewers know that not all answers are instantaneous, they won’t have a problem with a candidate taking a moment to gather their thoughts. Don’t assume you must constantly be blurting out answers or risk showing incompetence. Take a deep breath, have a think and then give your answer. Giving a well thought out answer after a few moments of reflection is much better than rambling straight away and not answering the question properly.

Things to Avoid

Here’s a list of general things to avoid in an interview:

  • Showing up late
  • Not knowing what the job role is
  • Lying about your experience
  • Not making eye contact with the interviewer
  • Forget to bring something you were asked to bring
  • Speaking too negatively about a previous role or employer
  • Showing a lack of enthusiasm
  • Looking at or doing anything with your phone
  • Fidgeting too much
  • Using closed off body language

Have Questions to Ask

Possibly one of the worst things someone could do in a job interview is to not ask questions. Asking questions shows enthusiasm and that you have been paying attention, not to mention that if you are really serious about the role then chances are you will be bursting with questions about what it’s like to work for the company.

An interviewer will always ask if you have any questions, so make sure you have some in mind even if you can’t think of any genuine questions at the time. Here are a few you could have on the back burner just in case:

  • What do you most enjoy about working here?
  • What is the biggest challenge facing the company today?
  • What is your management style?
  • How would you describe the working culture of this company?
  • What expectations do you have for someone in this role in the first three months?

For those of you moving on from University life, good luck in your next adventure. If you’ve decided to stick around for a masters or PhD and avoid work for a few more years, you can book your student accommodation in Lancaster with us.

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